This study examined the impact of a social support manipulation on performance. Participants with high and low levels of perceived support were randomly assigned to an experimental support or control condition, before completing a golf-putting task. Participants with high levels of perceived support performed at a higher level than those with low levels of perceived support. Participants in the support condition performed at a higher level than those in the control condition. A significant interaction was primarily attributable to the low perceived support participants in the support condition performing better than the low perceived support participants in the control condition. Participants in the support condition also experienced less frequent and distracting task-irrelevant thoughts compared with those in the control condition. These results suggest that experimentally manipulated support may lead to improvements in the performance of novices completing a golf-putting task, and that such support may be particularly important for those low in perceived support.
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Tim Rees and Paul Freeman
Paul Freeman, Pete Coffee, and Tim Rees
This article provides initial evidence for the construct validity of the Perceived Available Support in Sport Questionnaire (PASS-Q), which assesses emotional, esteem, informational, and tangible support. In Study 1, confirmatory factor analyses provided evidence for a four-dimension factor structure. Correlations supported hypothesized relationships between the PASS-Q dimensions and the Social Support Survey questions (Richman, Rosenfeld, & Hardy, 1993). In Study 2, the four-dimension factor structure was supported in an independent sample. Further, higher levels of perceived available emotional, esteem, informational, and tangible support were associated with higher levels of self-confidence and lower levels of burnout. Researchers are encouraged to use the PASS-Q to examine the effects of perceived available support in sport contexts.
Tim Rees, Paul Freeman, Steve Bell, and Ross Bunney
Coaches are important providers of social support, but what influences us to perceive our coaches as supportive or unsupportive? We investigated the extent to which perceptions of coach support reflect characteristics of athletes and coaches, as well as relational components. In three studies, athletes judged the actual or hypothetical supportiveness of various coaches. The methods of generalizability theory permitted us to conclude that perceptions of coach support primarily reflected relational components, with characteristics both of athletes and coaches also independently playing (lesser) roles. These findings suggest that athletes may systematically disagree on the supportiveness of their coaches.
Adam Howard Coussens, Tim Rees, and Paul Freeman
Although social support is integral to the coaching process, there is only a limited understanding of the antecedents of perceived coach support. We applied generalizability theory to examine perceived coach support and its antecedents at perceiver, provider, and relational levels of analysis. Two studies were conducted in which athletes rated the degree to which they identified with a selection of coaches, and the personality, competency, and supportiveness of those coaches. Univariate analyses demonstrated that the relational component accounted for a significant amount of variance in perceived coach support in both studies. Multivariate analyses demonstrated that when athletes perceive specific coaches to be highly agreeable, competent, and individuals with whom they share a common identity, they also perceive these same coaches to be particularly supportive in comparison with other coaches.
Paul Freeman, Pete Coffee, Tjerk Moll, Tim Rees, and Nadine Sammy
To address calls for context-specific measurement of social support, this article reports the development of the Athletes’ Received Support Questionnaire (ARSQ) and demonstrates initial evidence for its validity. Across four studies there was support for a four-dimensional structure reflecting emotional, esteem, informational, and tangible received support. There was also support for unidimensional and higher-order models. Further, Study 3 provided some support for convergent validity, with significant correlations between the corresponding dimensions of the ARSQ and the Inventory of Socially Supportive Behaviors. Study 4 provided evidence for the nomological validity of the ARSQ. Emotional and esteem support significantly predicted self-confidence and positive affect, and tangible support significantly moderated the relationship between stress and negative affect. Collectively, these results provide initial evidence for the validity of the ARSQ, and offer researchers flexibility to adopt either a multidimensional or aggregated approach to measuring received support.
William R. Low, Joanne Butt, Paul Freeman, Mike Stoker, and Ian Maynard
Pressure training (PT) strategically increases pressure in training to prepare athletes to perform under pressure. Although research has studied how to create pressure during training, PT’s effectiveness may depend on more than creating pressure. A practitioner’s delivery of sport psychology interventions can moderate their effectiveness, so the current study explored perspectives of sport psychologists and athletes on the characteristics of effective PT delivery in applied settings. Eight international-level athletes and eight sport psychologists participated in semistructured qualitative interviews in which they described their experience participating in or conducting PT, respectively. Thematic analysis produced four themes relating to effective delivery: (a) collaboration with athletes and coaches: “with,” not “to”; (b) integration into training; (c) upfront transparency; and (d) promoting learning before and after PT. The themes provide guidance for planning, conducting, and following up on PT sessions in applied settings. The best practices discussed could increase athletes’ receptiveness to PT.
Lee J. Moore, Samuel J. Vine, Mark R. Wilson, and Paul Freeman
Competitive situations often hinge on one pressurized moment. In these situations, individuals’ psychophysiological states determine performance, with a challenge state associated with better performance than a threat state. But what can be done if an individual experiences a threat state? This study examined one potential solution: arousal reappraisal. Fifty participants received either arousal reappraisal or control instructions before performing a pressurized, single-trial, motor task. Although both groups initially displayed cardiovascular responses consistent with a threat state, the reappraisal group displayed a cardiovascular response more reflective of a challenge state (relatively higher cardiac output and/or lower total peripheral resistance) after the reappraisal manipulation. Furthermore, despite performing similarly at baseline, the reappraisal group outperformed the control group during the pressurized task. The results demonstrate that encouraging individuals to interpret heightened physiological arousal as a tool that can help maximize performance can result in more adaptive cardiovascular responses and motor performance under pressure.
Lee J. Moore, Mark R. Wilson, Samuel J. Vine, Adam H. Coussens, and Paul Freeman
The present research examined the immediate impact of challenge and threat states on golf performance in both real competition and a laboratory-based task. In Study 1, 199 experienced golfers reported their evaluations of competition demands and personal coping resources before a golf competition. Evaluating the competition as a challenge (i.e., sufficient resources to cope with demands) was associated with superior performance. In Study 2, 60 experienced golfers randomly received challenge or threat manipulation instructions and then performed a competitive golf-putting task. Challenge and threat states were successfully manipulated and the challenge group outperformed the threat group. Furthermore, the challenge group reported less anxiety, more facilitative interpretations of anxiety, less conscious processing, and displayed longer quiet eye durations. However, these variables failed to mediate the group–performance relationship. These studies demonstrate the importance of considering preperformance psychophysiological states when examining the influence of competitive pressure on motor performance.
Ella McLoughlin, Rachel Arnold, Paul Freeman, James E. Turner, Gareth A. Roberts, David Fletcher, George M. Slavich, and Lee J. Moore
This study addressed whether lifetime stressor exposure was associated with psychophysiological reactivity and habituation to a novel laboratory-based stressor. Eighty-six participants (M age = 23.31 years, SD = 4.94) reported their exposure to lifetime non-sport and sport-specific stressors before completing two consecutive trials of the Trier Social Stress Test, while cardiovascular (i.e., heart rate) and endocrine (i.e., salivary cortisol) data were recorded. Exposure to a moderate number of lifetime non-sport and sport-specific stressors was associated with adaptive cardiovascular reactivity, whereas very low or very high stressor exposure was related to maladaptive reactivity. Moreover, experiencing a very low number of lifetime non-sport (but not sport-specific) stressors was associated with poorer habituation. In contrast, lifetime stressor severity was unrelated to cardiovascular reactivity. Finally, greater lifetime non-sport and sport-specific stressor counts were associated with blunted cortisol reactivity and poorer habituation. These results suggest that lifetime stressor exposure may influence sport performers’ acute stress responses.